Saturday, July 30, 2011

College Reminiscing - A Built-In Foundation

I recently had an excuse to peruse my photos from my Freshman year of college.  I spent the following hours laughing out loud as I relived that year with a huge grin plastered on my face.  From the perspective of a woman married 13 years with 4 children, that past life appears "carefree"- no cooking, little cleaning, sleeping in, dancing every weekend, enormous amounts of time spent with friends and lots of moments of pure silliness.  Of course when I take a moment to step back and really remember what I felt and experienced during that single year, it is amazing how much growth and discovery took place as a result of a conglomerate of things:  new responsibility, balancing a greater independence with an increased reliance on the Lord, many heartbreaks {oh those boys}, feelings of inadequacy and homesickness, friendships with incredible individuals, channeling my passion for the Humanities, and so much more.

I feel privileged to have attended and graduated from Brigham Young University, the greatest university on the planet:) Go Cougars! {ok that will never die in me, its now instinctual to want to yell that every time I think of my university.}  Those years spent there helped to mold the person I am today.  For me there was no other place where I belonged.  I was a part of that university, 1 of 30,000, but a part.  I felt a rush every time classes got out and I was surrounded by the buzz and commotion of tens of thousands of college students busily going from place to place.  Ten of thousands of college students committed to living life by the same standards I believed in and lived by.  There was a freedom in that.  A freedom that came from knowing that people knew what you believed and would support and uplift you in living it.  This freedom ignited me in living my life as 'me' more than ever.  There was never a question in high school as to what I believed, but in college I didn't have to explain my choices, they were understood.  This enabled me to create friendships and relationships with others based on a built-in foundation, a foundation on my core beliefs, the essence of who I was.  From this foundation lasting friendships were developed, some deeper than ever before.  When the foundation is there, the other elements in a relationship come easier.  I thrived in that environment and want that for my children.  I am grateful to that experience each and every day of my life.

After would I have met Mike?:)

{My dorm room with the infamous Skittles wall and 'List' - little did I know that it would cost me (my parents) 5 cavities when I got home.  Love my boombox, so rad!}

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fading and lasting reminders

Today marked a momentous occasion for my sweet little niece Abigail...the oxygen tube was removed!  Her poor little cheekies bear the last reminders of the tube as a permanent attachment since birth.  Soon those will fade, but her scar on her chest will continually serve as a reminder of the miracle and grace of God.  A true mark of tenacity to attest to the strength of her Spirit and will.  This little girl is a fighter, a champion in the truest form of the word, a valiant fighter.    

The freedom from her oxygen tanks means she is mobile now, such a blessing that most parents don't even realize.  To be able to take your baby from place to place without the weight and coordination of oxygen tanks, tubes, and monitors.  They are looking forward to performing even the little tasks with less hassle.  She will be able to have her first bath tomorrow.  My babies loved bath time, such a tender time of bonding between mother and child.  

It is wonderful to see her so alert.  The feeding tube will stay for now, but the doctors say that it will be gone soon as well.  She is continuing to gain weight.  She passed the 8 pound mark.  Selfishly I hope that these improvements will make it possible for their little family to come visit us as they had initially planned this coming month.  I can't even comprehend what a trip like that would entail logistically for them.  It would be a joyous moment to be able to hold my dear little niece, the sweet, adored daughter of my own baby brother.  Continual prayers coming their way!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Withdrawals and Overload

Well I don't know about you, but I feel like I've been going through Abigail withdrawals.  Over the first two weeks of her life I grew accustomed to seeing her sweet, little face and hearing about every amazing and scary moment occuring each and every day, sometimes hour by hour, minute by minute.  The instant she was born she had become a part of my heart and I know a part of many of your hearts as well.  We all became her cheering crowd, her champions, her unseen lifting hands.  Witnessing God's miracles on a consistent basis has been exhilarating.

Over the past few days I have been feeling a little of the Summer Blues, a little drained by the demand that four children require on a sun up, sun down basis. {Tate even before the sun}.  Knowing that I needed to change my perspective and stop my pathetic inner dialogue of complaint and pity, I decided to turn my thoughts to women who are examples of strength, that of pioneer women.  These include women of my faith, who during the early years of our Church's history, left homes and comforts behind to cross the plains to follow a prophet of God and seek for a place of peace. {read more of pioneers here and here}  They were women of courage, faith, endurance, and strength.  In my thoughts, I reached out to some friends through the convenient technology of texting with a question of "Do you think pioneer women ever felt like they needed a break from their kids or that they were always happy to be surrounded by them day and night?"  I received some wonderful quips that brought me much needed laughter involving pioneer women sending children on far away chores, possible play groups from cabin to cabin or hand cart to hand cart, and some late night fireside dancing and consuming of beef jerky amongst themselves.  I would love to hear some journal entries on those!

One friend pointed out that "they were certainly more familiar with the fragility of life regarding their little ones.  That's something I would be well to remember."  Oh this is so true.  We have often heard of these accounts, even our dear Prophet Joseph Smith and his wife Emma were not exempt from the harsh reality of their day.  My mind once again returned to this miracle of Abigail.  Such a testament to the miracle of modern medicine, a blessing of living in this day and age.  I often find myself in awe of the grand design of the body and all of its inter-workings.  I would do well to give thanks for the perfect little bodies that are my children.  Of course there are a battle scar or two or three {and in poor Owen's case today, a chipped front tooth} but for the most part my children are extremely healthy and perfectly lively!!  We have been greatly blessed in that department.

I am grateful for good friends who helped to rescue me with a little laughter, some reassurance that I am indeed a 'normal mom', and with some proper perspective.  In this quest for perspective, I am exploring the following scriptures that I came across in that article I mentioned previously in my post, "Be of Good Cheer": 

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11–13).

To be content in whatsoever state I am in.  That right there is my test.  That is the perspective I need.  I am intrigued by the following verse and the use of opposites to expound on what it means to be content.  As I study how to be both humble and to excel, to be satisfied and to yearn for more, I pray it may lead to my understanding that I can do all things in Christ, "in whom we have boldness and access with confidence" (Ephesians 3:12)

Since my mom has been home from Utah, I have felt disconnected from the world of Abigail and her proud parents, Jesse and Jani.  I have not wanted to intrude on them in their efforts to care for their newborn baby, as I know caring for a healthy baby is exhausting.  I can't even imagine the increased worry and bone-tiredness that would come from tending to a baby with fragile health.  This evening my mother has sent me a little report on Abigail as well as a few photos:

"She seems to be doing well, thank goodness.  She's feeding better and her sats (oxygen saturation level) are good.  [Jesse and Jani] are thoroughly enjoying their little angel girl!!  It makes me so happy!"  I love to hear them describing her typical infant activities: her love of her swing, lots of snoozing {which is normal for all babies beside my own}, drinking her bottle, cute faces she makes, and of course her fun girlie outfits.  On one video my mom sent me it had Jesse speaking in his new high-pitched Daddy voice.  Loved it!  So fun to hear my brother in that role.  I almost didn't recognize whose voice it was.  Here are a few photos from the past few days:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Goodbye School, Hello Summer

I remember reading in a Family Fun magazine {love that magazine!...full of ideas by creative people for tired people like me to make our own:-)} about a Mom who put up a banner for her kids to run through on the last day of school to celebrate the beginning of Summer.  I have been wanting to do this for years and so this year I was determined to do it.  I let the creative juices flow and I have to say that it was so much fun to do!  It became a little precarious as I climbed up the ladder to hang up the front door "Summer" sign by myself but thankfully no trip to the Urgent Care {who unfortunately has seen us a little too often}.  The yard was ready, just needed the boys to come home.

My little Kindergartener was first to be home.  Eyan was thrilled to run through that finish line and then through the front door ribbons over and over again.  Of course Tate had a hankering for bursting through the ribbons since the moment I hung them up.  The elation on their faces was contagious.

Owen seemed to bounce out of the car.  Mainly because he saw something to run through, not because he was overly thrilled for Summer to begin.  Owen LOVES school and wasn't too sure about being out for 3 months.  He, like his brothers, bounded back and forth through the ribbon sign.

My cute little school boys were out for the summer.  I always love seeing their shoes on the last day of school.  {Owen's kindergarten shoes here.} It is amazing to me how they can be transformed into bare threads within months.  Eyan calls these shoes his Lightning McQueen shoes {its the closest he'll get since I am a mean mom who doesn't allow character shoes} and I think they may be close to their final lap.  I always love Owen's style.  His shoe laces went from black to purple to white and black throughout the year.  

We had made a bucket list for things to do this summer and we definitely started off our first day right.  This was only the beginning of our day of fun.  Stay tuned for photos of a pool party, pizza, and a Drive In Movie.  Oh the fun we had!

{see my tutorial for the 'Gateway to Summer' door banner here}

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Going Home

Well Jesse proclaimed it so, "It's official. We are going home today!!". Home. Home!!! Can it be true? Such promising words!!! I have to say I am holding my breath a little. I so want them to be true. The plan is that Jesse and Jani will be heading home today sometime with their precious girl and a feeding tube, oxygen tank, and monitor in tow. Abigail gained sufficient weight from being back on the feeding tube yesterday. Jesse said that they have been feeding her all that she will take and then have to give the rest that she needs through the tube. What loving care will be taking place in their little home as new parent hands will not only perform the normal infancy care but also the added tasks associated with Abigail's extra needs. I hope to relay more information and of course photos as soon as I receive them!

Thank you to everyone for you prayers, fasting, thoughts, support, love, and kind words. This is truly a triumph and a blessed day for us all. All of you who have made Abigail your own.

**UPDATE 1:56 pm She's all dressed up and ready to go!!! Home that is.
Sent from Jesse: "About to leave the hospital. Now this is how Jani always imagined her. Covered in pink, not in cords."

Its official when you're in the carseat, you are homeward bound!!

**UPDATE 3:57 pm sent from Jani, "wide eyed on her way home."  Abigail is discovering that there is a whole other world out there that she doesn't want to miss.

**UPDATE Jul 18th 9:52pm.  It has been pretty quiet on the news over the past 2 days.  I am hoping that means that things are going alright at home with Daddy Jesse, Mommy Jani, and Baby Abigail.  I know that she has continued on the feeding tube and has to be fed every 3 hours to ensure she is getting enough calories.  My mom said that she is sleeping well but like many babies, has her days and nights confused.  I am sure the exhaustion of parenthood is taking its toll so I have tried to just leave them be and hope they are doing well and getting plenty of rest when they can.  Hope to have more photos soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

One Little Step Forward, One Big Step Back

Although I received his message in a written form this morning, I could 'hear' the disappointment in Jesse's voice as he asked us to pray for Abigail.  Some people you know so well that when you read their words, you hear their voice. This is the case with my Jesse. This is the first time I have received a direct request from him. An earnest plea from a father on behalf of his precious daughter. Due to lack of weight gain, little Abigail will have to be put back on a feeding tube.  Such a frustrating setback after yesterday's hopeful prospect that she may have been able to come home today if she would have done better feeding from a bottle.  Kathy, Jani's mother, enlightened us on Abigail's feeding particulars in her comment last night on the post "Hurdle to Heading Home".  In part she states,
"They say eating is the most tiring thing for her so they need to make sure she is eating more calories than she is using to drink her bottle or nurse."  This is most likely the reason she will have to be back on the feeding tube today, she was not consuming enough calories from the bottle and nursing.  It is my guess that until she does, she will not be able to come home.  Jesse asked that we "pray that she starts to eat well.  Our stay in the hospital has been extended a couple of days."  

Just yesterday their sites on going home soon seemed so promising.  Abigail had achieved a time-honored milestone for any girl, wearing her first outfit.  Such a simple thing, but represented so much.  A small step on the path of 'firsts' that are the joys of infancy for every parent to witness.  Please answer Jesse's call to pray for his perfect baby girl today so that they may enjoy her first day at home very soon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hurdle to Heading Home

It has been an entire week since sweet baby Abigail underwent her life-saving heart surgery.  We are happy to report that she has been moved from the NICU onto a different floor in the hospital.  That alone speaks volumes!  An even more highly anticipated move is the day when she will be able to join her Mommy and Daddy at home.  She continues to approach that goal as she improves more and more each day.  One of the main hurdles is transitioning from her dependency on the IV for food.  Most mothers would agree that as a first-time mom there was some level of anxiety relating to feeding your newborn baby.  That in combination with all the complications of Abigail's young life must place it at an extreme level.  There has been some resistance from Abigail which I am sure places heavy burdens on Jani.  I pray for peace in both of their hearts as they struggle to create that unique bond between mother and child.

I believe that if they can get Abigail to at least improve feeding from a bottle that they will be one more step closer to bringing her home tomorrow or Saturday!!!!!!  What a miracle that would be.  Let us continue to pray that those life sustaining functions, which the doctors worked so hard to repair, in conjunction with those natural reflexes that Heavenly Father has created for our bodies will supersede her accustomed dependency on machines for live giving.

**UPDATE Jul 15 8:00 pm written by Grandma Kathy in the "comments" link below.**

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Be of Good Cheer

Life is ever eventful in our family {I wonder how often I have said that:-)}.  I spent part of yesterday alongside my little sister in the hospital who had been there the entire day, and has had become somewhat of a resident the past little while.  36 1/2 weeks along in her pregnancy, she has had numerous kidney and gall stones, and was now experiencing intense chest pains.  Having ruled out all of the "dangerous" possibilities for her and the baby and not really knowing what the source of the pain was, the doctor decided to send her home with this awesome farewell speech.  "Our door is always open.  You are always welcome to come back.  Don't let us tell you 'no' if you want to come back."  Wow!  Seriously?!  Poor Nes.

On a more pleasant note, the day of the long awaited embrace of their daughter Abigail had arrived for Jesse and Jani...and of course grandmas Teresa and Kathy.  What miracles had to have taken place for this day to arrive is almost unfathomable!  I love this photo.  It make my heart melt to see such love exuding from by baby brother to his baby girl.  I love how her little body fits just perfectly in Jesse's arm.  Such a happy Daddy!

Thank you Abigail for looking at the camera:-)  She's already being trained.  So adorable.  And beautiful Grandma Teresa, how blessed she feels to have been able to be there from the very first moments of Abigail's life.  I know it must have been very difficult for her to leave her today.

Jesse sent me this cute little photo of her fascinated by this bright light toy.  She really looks mesmerized.  Seeing her so alert and demonstrating such typical newborn behavior makes me very happy!

Jesse told me that he would send some more photos of Jani and Kathy with the baby later on today.  Counting on it Jes.
**And he delivered today at 2:30pm.  Thanks Jesse.  Jani looks rather amazing for just having a baby, don't you think?:-)  Love you Jani!  What relief this must be to you, to feel Abigail's heart beat next to yours.

Yesterday I chose to read an article in this month's Ensign, a magazine our church publishes which is full of articles relating to living Christ's gospel on a daily basis, many of which are written by Christ's living apostles and prophets.  This article is entitled Be of Good Cheer:  Choosing Happiness written by one of my religion professors I had while attending Brigham Young University, Camille Fronk Olson.  She states and also quotes Elder Neal A Maxwell:
Cheerfulness in the scriptural context connotes a divinely assured optimism, "a deep trust in God's unfolding purposes," a grounded conviction that God will always keep His promises.

When Jesus tells us to "be of good cheer" (John 16:33) he is not just telling us to put a smile on our face, but to have an earnest expectation of what He has already assured us.  That he has born our grief.  He has suffered for every possible type of infirmity.  That we might not suffer if we but Come unto Him.  And that we must have a deep trust in the purposes and plan of God that we may not see right now, but which are unfolding.  Awesome!  And from our knowledge of the nature of God, we know what kind of purpose that is.  A refining purpose.  A defining purpose.  I love her use of words, "grounded conviction".  For when trials come such as these, we must be grounded.  We must be continually laying down roots in this fertile soil of the gospel, continually planting our testimony firmly in that knowledge that God will always keep His promises.  And he has given us so many.  In particular for a couple that was able to create covenants, those sacred promises to each other and to God, in the House of the Lord, even the temple, like Jesse and Jani.  Those covenants which bind families on earth as well as in the life hereafter, together for eternity.  How blessed to have made such covenants.  To have such knowledge.  Truly a reason to "be of good cheer".

***UPDATE by Grandma Kathy Jul 12, 4:20pm
Abigail was moved out of the ICU this morning to a room on a regular floor!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hands - A Video Update on Abigail

I have been getting lots of updates through videos my mom has taken on her iPhone.  I have seen glimpses into how Abigail is doing, her little personality, and tender moments exchanged: mother to daughter, father to daughter.  I have tried previously to upload them to my blog, but unsuccessfully.  This morning I thought I would try to combine them and create a small, rough video of Abigail's short, powerful course so far.

This morning Jesse texted me that Abigail was doing well.  She had slept pretty much through the night.   They are slowly weening her off of oxygen still and the tubes and cords are slowly coming out.  They are highly anxious to hold their sweet baby girl.  Jesse remarked on how she seemed a little more alert yesterday than today, but how she was still doing ok.  

The song on this video has special significance to me.  I was introduced to it by a dear friend when my Daddy was in the hospital.  It is called, "Your Hands" sung by JJ Heller.  I love the imagery of the words:
When my world is shaking, heaven stands   
When my heart is breaking, I never leave your hands  
Your hands that shape the world  
Are holding me   
They hold me still. 
There is repeated imagery of hands in this little video.  Hands holding.  Hands helping.  Hands loving.  Folded hands.  Anxious hands.  Strong daddy hands.  Gentle mommy hands.  Supportive grandmother hands.  Life-saving doctor hands.  Precious baby hands.  I hope you can feel the strength of this testimony that His hands never leave us.

***UPDATE*** 9:50 pm.  We have passed the 48 hour mark for baby Abigail!!!  My mother said that although the day started off tough for Abigail with her demonstrating less alertness than yesterday, that by the end of today the nurse made a remark that Abigail was doing better than most babies who have had similar surgeries.  They have started her on a feeding tube which is a great step!  Thank you all again for your continued love and support.

***UPDATE*** Sunday Jul 10th, 9:30 pm.  Mom texted me this evening that Abigail was wide awake and alert.  She said that they are gradually decreasing the amount and flow of oxygen she is on until she is stabilized on her own.  My mother was intending on coming home tomorrow until she found out that they will be able to hold Abigail tomorrow!!!!  She will be staying another day.  I can't even imagine not being able to hold your newborn baby for days, especially after such a traumatic event in which such an embrace would provide such comfort.  What a beautiful day it will be tomorrow for Jani and Jesse!

Being Projected Back into Life

It is amazing to me how much lighter I felt yesterday.  So much more able to tackle the everyday tasks of life.  I felt such relief and happiness surrounding Abigail's continued recovery.  It really projected me back into living, equipped with more energy than I had had in days.  I began to chisel away at the Everest dish pile that had accumulated in my sink and its neighbor "Mt. Washmore' {as my friend calls it}.  Much to the delight of my poor, neglected children.  My two oldest, Owen and Eyan, both commented to me the night before on separate occasions,
"Mom, are you going to do the dishes?"
They have been wearing clothes that they have had to hunt for, in pairings I would usually never allow.   Button down yellow and red plaid shirt.  Elastic band navy and white basketball shorts.  Yikes!  Holey navy and white soccer shirt.  Black and white striped shorts with oatmeal ground into the back of the leg. Wow!

Gratefully I had the foresight that morning to finally throw in a load of laundry since I knew we had to emerge from our cave later that day.  Yes, I had to leave the house and I think it was about time.  I have to say that I was not looking forward to taking all four children to the dentist by myself, but I had put it off long enough.  My poor little Eyan has had his adult teeth growing behind his baby teeth for an extended amount of time and a trip to Dr. Billings, the amazing singing dentist, was long overdue.  With a succession of long deep breaths, a hopeful prayer in my heart, the "Remember there are 4 of you and 1 of Mom" speech, and some string cheese in my diaper bag, I was ready to tackle the next hour or so.  I have to say that it was an absolute miracle!  The kids were INCREDIBLE!  So obedient.  So quiet.  So polite.  It was heaven sent.  Eyan was so brave as they pulled his stubborn two bottom teeth.  Dr. Billings and her staff really do a phenomenal job with the kids.   We also always come away having learned a new song.  This time we discovered that Little Bunny Foo-Foo was actually turned into a goon because the Good Fairy didn't like his attitude.  Hmmm.  Never knew.  She also introduced us in the next verse to Foo-Foo's sister Fifi, who was actually praised for her attitude.  Apparently the Good Fairy played favorites.

Joe came last night.  If you are not aware, Joe is the tooth fairy that lives under the stairs and collects teeth to make his house.  I suspect that Joe may be a tooth fairy in training though because he has had a really sketchy past in our house.  A little too inconsistent to be the tooth fairy.  {Read about his forgetfulness here.}  I'm inclined to give him a break though, I think he may be overworked and underpaid.  Well here is my darling little Eyan with his new smile.  Teeth, note, and money in hand {apparently Joe didn't have anything smaller than a $5 in his wallet or he just felt that having your first 2 teeth yanked out merited a 5 spot}.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Life Saving in the Form of a Tube

I just received a phone call from my mother.  I have to say that when the phone rang I said aloud, "Please don't let it be my mom."  She proceeded to put me on hold while she conferenced in all of my siblings {at least, the ones here in the country}.  Way too long of a pause...Complete torture.  She then came on the phone to tell us that the doctors had just come out of the surgery and told them all that it had been a success!!!  All her vitals are looking good too!!!  Mom spoke of how they were all feeling so relieved and grateful.  It had taken longer than expected because when they had attached the tube to the tissue of her artery, it continued to bleed.  They kept her open to watch the bleeding for the next hour.

Meet the tiny tube that is saving Abigail's life.

One just like it is connecting Abigail's walnut-sized heart to the pulmonary artery so that the blood can become oxygenated in the lungs.  My mother spoke of how they were very confident with the doctors, and how the lead doctor was extremely meticulous.  Mike and I were discussing how you would have to be if you were to stitch and seal that tiny tube into tissue.  It is almost beyond comprehension how amazing that is!  

The next 48 hours are the most crucial part of this entire process.  They will reveal whether or not the surgery was actually successful, if Abigail's little body can adjust to functioning with the shunt.  Its a waiting game.  I hate waiting.  I am afraid that there will be a lot of waiting and wondering in this journey of surgeries for baby Abigail.  But a journey of faith and miracles, nonetheless!  After the longest 48 hours ever, the next milestone will be a surgery when she is 4-5 months old.  From what I understand and remember, it will be a shunt that will connect the blood from the base of the brain directly to the lungs, bypassing the ventricles of the heart altogether.  I feel like I need to go back to the 4th grade and study the diagram of the heart that I was once familiar with.  Maybe I'll just ask Owen.

We are sooo overwhelmingly grateful to all of those who thought about, prayed for, and/or fasted for baby Abigail and our family today.  Your thoughts, prayers, and purposeful fasting were tangible today to me and I am sure to Jesse and Jani as well.  Miracles continue in the life of our family.   Thank you for being a part of that.

Here are a few beautiful photos of Jani, Jesse, my mother, and Abigail just before the surgery.  Such love!  Such hope!  Such strength!

**UPDATE**  Fri Jul 8th,  8:30 am Report from Jesse about Abigail: Our little one is doing great so far this morning.   When I called last night at 2 they were already starting to ween her off the ventilator and they have continued that since I have been here.  They are taking an IV out of her neck right now.

From Daddy Jesse: Cute blue eyes! A little swollen from surgery. But still cute!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

An Invitation in Fasting: United in One Purpose

LATEST UPDATE*** Thurs Jul 7 3:40 pm from an email from my mom:
Just got word from one of the surgery nurses that they just completed the surgery and are working to finish and close up.  She gave us a brief report that all facets of the surgery went well and that they did an echocardiogram which looked good!!!!  Woo hoo!  We are now just waiting to get the full report from the doctor in about an hour.  If the surgery wasn't scary enough, the post surgery period is even more critical according to the doctors.  Now we continue the waiting game.  So glad we cleared that on to the next!

We cannot thank everyone enough for all your love, faith and prayers!!  I will send a more detailed report soon as we hear from the doctor!

God bless you all!


IMPORTANT UPDATE*** Thurs. Jul 7th 10:55 am. The doctors just took Abigail away. The surgery will commence in about an hour and will last 4 hours. Please pray!!!!!  Thank you to all of those who have joined in our fast and prayers.

Isn't she beautiful?!!! My mother described her hair perfectly, 'silken apricot'.  I just love looking at her.  How I wish I could hold her too.  I love this photo below of Jani, her mother Kathy, and sweet baby Abigail.  Three generations of women of strength.  My mother has told me several times how Abigail possesses Jani's vibrant spirit.  I love Jani's expression in this photo.  It has been running over and over in mind.  What Jani must be feeling.   She seems to be memorizing all the intricate details of Abigail's face and delighting in her privilege of helping to bring this perfect angel into the world. 

In speaking with my mother today a couple of times, it seems to have been a very long day full of doctors and more doctors.  Many things were said to new parents that you never would envision having to hear: the statistics, the risks.  Their baby.  Her heart.  Surgery.  Three things you never want to combine in the same sentence.  Thankfully they are surrounded by an amazing support system.  We would invite you to participate in increasing their circle of support by joining us tomorrow in a very special fast for Abigail, the cardiologists, Jesse, and Jani.  For us, fasting is an added power to prayer alone.  Fasting is not to just go without food for a certain period of time, it intensifies prayers and invites the Holy Ghost into our life for the purpose of bringing ourselves and our prayers closer to God. I testify that they will feel of your faith and strength as we did when we fasted for my Daddy.  Hundreds of people united in one purpose, raising their voices to our Heavenly Father, demonstrating outwardly their recognition that all things are in His hands, all blessings come from Him.  We thank you dearly.

Here is another email from my mother sent this evening with details on the surgery tomorrow and some thoughts of gratitude and love:

Dearest Friends and Family,
We just got word from the doctor that Abigail's surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, Thurs. July 7.  Her case is second on the list so they are guessing that it will be about noon, but will know better in the morning.  It should take about 4-5 hours and will probably be about a 10-14 day recovery in the hospital at best.
Jesse and Jani have both been able to hold her which has been a tremendous blessing for them to bond with their precious little angel.  She is beautiful.  The photographs really do not do her justice.  Her hair is a silken apricot color with gorgeous full lips like her Auntie Briana and cousin Owen.  It's funny because every nurse has said that she's a little fiesty.  She must be like her mother who has a joie de vivre that exudes from her delightful spirit!  
The results of the MRI confirm pretty much what the doctors had suspected.  Her left ventricle is missing and her pulmonary artery is not functioning properly.  This is the artery that carries the "blue blood", non oxygenated blood, to the lungs.  So the plan for tomorrow is to place a shunt from an as yet undetermined artery to the pulmonary artery to allow the blood to get oxygenated in the lung. Also they will be making the hole between the atrial chambers larger.  Once they get in there they will possibly need to do a couple other things.  Her little heart is about the size of a walnut.  It's truly remarkable what these doctors can do with the advancement of medical technology!  I'm so grateful for smart people like them who dedicate their lives to healing the sick.  As well, I'm grateful to God for His healing hands and pray that they may be upon my precious little granddaughter.

It's been a long day and we're all pretty tired.  Jani's been holding the baby as much as she can since it will be awhile before she can hold her again.  I hope this email makes sense as I'm feeling super drained.
A heartfelt thanks to all of our loved ones for your love, care, concern, faith and prayers!  It is all very much appreciated!
Much love,

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


This is the image that I had been waiting to see.  The image of my baby brother holding his baby girl.  He is a Daddy.  You can just feel the tenderness of his heart as he gazes onto his sleeping Abigail.  In his eyes she's perfect.  No wires, no machine, no doctor can convince him otherwise.

These photos have brought me great joy.  Seeing the smiles on their faces sends of wave of warmth and an enlightenment of perspective.  They are a family, an eternal family.

I have been consumed by this trial and have thought greatly about Jesse and Jani and what they have been experiencing and what they may be feeling.  I spoke to my Daddy on the phone after he had spoken to Jesse.  He related to me how Jesse had spoken with several doctors regarding surgery for Abigail.  How the first doctor had not been very optimistic, to which they asked for a second opinion.  The second was very positive and related a journey of surgeries but one with hope.  I thought of Jesse and how he has been thrust into fatherhood.  He was now the one speaking to the doctors about life-important decisions regarding His own family, not my Dad.  He was the Dad.  He is the patriarch of his home.  He is the one Abigail will turn to for protection, for safety, for counsel.

I thought of Jani and what she must have felt being exhausted, traumatized, and left behind at the hospital.  I was reminded of the times I have been able to spend with her and have been amazed at her optimism and her wise counsel.  I was grateful for the coping skills and emotional strength that she acquired through teaching these same principles to those young men and women whom she came in contact with in her employment.  I thought of her supportive family by her side.  I thought of her faith and undeviating testimony that she was a daughter of God, who loves her.  And loves her baby, more than she could possibly understand.  Yet if she felt as I did, that at that moment your baby first arrived, you could comprehend greater than ever before the vastness and unending nature of the love Our Father in Heaven has for us, his children.  I pray for continued strength, faith, and hope to my valiant baby brother, his magnificent wife, and their perfect baby girl.

***UPDATE - Baby Abigail will be having a MRI at 5pm today.  She will most likely be having surgery tomorrow.  If that is the case, I would invite anyone interested in joining us tomorrow in a family fast {read here about the purpose of fasting}.  

A photo of his baby girl taken by Jesse this morning

***UPDATE Wed. Jul 6 7:41 am.  The cardiologist team is meeting this morning to make some final decisions.  We should know within a couple of hours the results of the MRI and plans for surgery.  Thank you to those of you who have still chosen to fast today.  Such power is felt through that!  We have been uplifted by the overwhelming response of love and support we have received from so many.  It is needed!  Thank you.


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